Each spring, I sit down and write out goals for myself and my horse Nemo. This is always such an exciting time to piece together the things we’d like to work on, goals we’d like to accomplish, and clinics and lessons we’re hoping to attend. As I sit down this year to write my goals, I thought I’d share my approach as our riding plans have adjusted a bit, as I’m sure many riders have.
To keep everyone safe and healthy, many events, shows, and clinics have delayed for some time. In Massachusetts, many of the farms have temporarily closed to keep everyone safe as well. I’m so very lucky to have Nemo at a wonderful farm, where I know he is content, happy, and likely enjoying a little bit of time after a busy winter. I won’t be able to see him every day for a couple weeks, so instead, I’m busy planning exercise ideas, learning, and brainstorming opportunities for when we can start up riding again. Here are my top 5 fun ideas:
1) Look up riding exercises. This winter, I spent a lot of time working on jumping grids with Nemo. After each lesson, I loved jotting the exercise down in my notebook and drawing out what we did. While we have some downtime, I’ve decided to revisit some of my favorite riding books and discover new exercises we can work on, whether jumping or when practicing dressage.
2) Catch up on horse health articles. I’m so lucky that I get to combine my passion for horse health with my career here at SmartPak. I plan on diving into some articles I haven’t had a chance to read about and do some additional research on horse health topics I’m particularly interested in, such as stifle issues and exercises to strengthen them.
3) Watch videos of riders I admire, dressage tests Nemo and I plan to ride, and (my favorite): cross country rounds. Sometimes just visualizing things, such as the 20m circle Nemo sometimes bobbles during, helps me to visualize how I would support him with my inside leg to keep him balanced, bending, and supple. Watching cross country rounds is not only fun, but it gets me excited for once Nemo and I are headed back out for rides.
4) Enjoy my other furry friends. I’m an active person, and I’m also someone that loves routine. Knowing there’s a little bit of a void that Nemo used to fill, I’ve decided to get extra walks in with my two favorite cattle-dog pups. They love the extra attention, and it makes me happy to know I’m still being active and helping make their days happy.
5) Finally, I’ve started to revisit some other hobbies that I use to supplement my riding. A good friend of mine introduced me to Barre class about a year ago, and I love it! It’s also great for building core strength for in the saddle. The studio offers virtual classes, so I’ve added a few more of these into my week so that I can stay active and be ready to go ride in the future.
As a rider myself, I am so excited to be back in the saddle sometime soon, and I definitely will have an extra appreciation for my time with Nemo. Until then, I plan to put these fun ideas into action. What are some of your ideas for downtime from the barn?